It’s a little hard to explain the appeal of the Polonia Brothers‘ films to the uninitiated.
More like “really hard”, actually.
For more than thirty years, they’ve been making some of the the worst films ever to get a professional release. However, the strange thing is that, if you’ve seen one Polonia Brothers film, you’ve probably seen at least half a dozen. After all, it’s a particularly interesting brand of terrible film we’re talking about, the kind of terrible that goes beyond mere ineptitude and incompetence, the kind of terrible that seems almost…inspired. Who could possibly think that the perfect sequel to a movie about aliens devouring people in messy ways would be one in which Santa (yes, that Santa, red outfit, reindeer, sleigh and all) takes on the alien invaders with a toy plastic raygun?
However, even the die hard fans have questioned whether they have the same goofy spark since the death of John Polonia. The few I’ve seen from the current era really haven’t answered that question, as even when both John and Mark were on the job, the results did vary a bit.
Land Shark does hit a lot closer to the classic Polonia mark: we have sharks eating people on land, but no one particularly noticing. We have the biologist at the big research aquarium who is beginning to think there’s something going on because her sharks keep disappearing from the tank only to return later. We have shark kills which seem to leave blood-covered but otherwise uninjured corpses. We have stock footage turned to shark kills by superimposing some blood and chum. And, when the unstable but villainous scientist kills all the sharks in the tank because they are no longer needed, he doesn’t wait until they’re all back so he has to spend the rest of the film wandering about looking for the remaining three.
The shark itself is one of the most awesomely terrible creatures you’ll find in a Polonia film. Its skin is all wrinkly, it doesn’t have legs, and it really doesn’t look as if it could even drag itself around on land, let alone creep about unnoticed or climb things so it can jump down on people without warning. This time around, the Polonia’s frequent collaborator, B-Movie Maestro Brett Piper, didn’t provide the monster — leaving the job to Mark’s son Anthony — and it seems to be a very inadequate hand puppet.
There is also a fish man later on which is basically a mask and gloves. It’s ugly enough, but not very expressive.
And it just doesn’t look much like a shark.
While weaponizing sharks does sound awesome, it’s hard to imagine any practical application. True, a wave of sharks charging across the battlefield might hurt the enemy’s morale, but you’d think that they wouldn’t do very well against an artillery barrage.
The usual cast of family and friends seems to be missing on this one, although Mark gets a very brief bit as yet another idiot redneck (perhaps the same one from Brett Piper’s Muckman and The Dark Sleep). We also get one outrageous mutilation (unseen), along with a potent reminder of what you shouldn’t do to a land shark, and an extreme gore moment which does remind us that the Brothers got their start with a silly and over the top (and very unrealistic) gore comedy, Splatter Farm. If nothing else, this moment should keep their hardcore fans happy.
While this wasn’t exactly one of their classics, it does have plenty of dumb, lots of silly and a generous heap of stupid fun. And, I have to admit, I did enjoy that over-the-top fish tale that Mark tries not to tell. It’s a silly moment, and thankfully I’m still not enough of a grown-up that I can’t enjoy it.
So turn off your brain, try not to groan too loud, make plenty of popcorn and hope that it only causes mild brain damage…
Although I have my doubts. After all, watching movies by the Polonia Brothers, old or new, does lead to watching more Polonia Brothers films…
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